Research Data Leeds Repository

Failed Histories of Electronic Music

Wilson, Daniel (2016) Failed Histories of Electronic Music. University of Leeds. [Dataset]

This item is part of the Alternative Histories of Electronic Music collection.

Dataset description

The author, in his self-published 2015 study 'The Magnetic Music of the Spiritual World: Electricity and Sound on the Victorian Stage' provides a detailed and hitherto unexplored pre-history of electronic music, from the electrical 'rappings' of spiritualist devices, culminating with the wireless radio oscillation outrages of the 1920s. A precis of the final two chapters of this work is given. His research brings to light figures that are bizarrely absent from contemporary discourse, such as 'electric musician' Johann Baptist Schalkenbach, John Parsons and the inventor of the first electronic instrument to be performed live (in 1895), Alfred Graham. Why, despite these characters enjoying popularity in their day, have they fallen under the radars of subsequent researchers? The answer lies in the academicisation of electronic music itself, and the perpetuation of deficient narratives. It is argued here that the absence of such figures from 'official' histories owes much to established power structures within literary elites and academia. Cronyism, nepotism and corruption thrived in these power structures, but they also persist to this day within the media and the PhD racket, exampled by numerous first- and second-hand case studies presented here, including the irony that the very research conducted here by the author was necessarily self-published in the face of wider indifference, funded entirely by Jobseeker's Allowance (alarmingly, it is now in the process of being absorbed and rehashed by paid/funded academics). The author's research methods are outlined; the work emerging from his previous activities on the peripheries of the antiquarian book trade and from frequenting auction-houses, constituting a 'hands-on' mode of research quite distinct from that of academia, yielding hitherto unrecorded source materials and archives. In connection with this, an overview of the rise of the 'composer-researcher' is given (that is, the composer who is compelled to academicise his/her practices in the hope of securing academic jobs), signalling a shift in research practices as the composer-researcher - unavoidably - brings variously modulated self-identifying sympathies into his/her investigations into the artists, engineers and inventors that occupied the hinterlands of yesterday's acoustical art.

Subjects: W000 - Creative arts & design > W300 - Music
W000 - Creative arts & design > W300 - Music > W310 - Musicianship/performance studies > W316 - Electronic/electro-acoustic music performance
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures > School of Music
Related resources:
Date deposited: 27 Jul 2017 19:51



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